The special effects in week two weren’t anything over the top, and some of the Bible stories we know so well could have been elaborated on a little more for effect. The scenes that writers dwelled on could have been shortened some to allow more time on others.
Joshua was told by God’s messenger that in order to conquer Jericho, his armies should march around the city for six days, and on the seventh day, march around the walls seven times. That was but a quick blip on the screen, whereas the scene before that spent time showing how the spies got in to recon the area and found a woman who would help, and subsequent scenes showed how that played out, the woman and her family were saved. Joshua conquered Jericho, but the Israelite’s troubles were far from over.
The 12 Tribes of Israel were spread out over a large area and still had hostile neighbors on all sides, the most troublesome being the Philistines. Samson was born to a woman who was barren, but had been told by God’s messenger that she would bear a son if she ate nothing unclean, and drank no alcohol. He would have much strength as long as his hair was never cut, and the family kept to that promise.
More time is devoted to Samson’s love life and how that betrays him, rather than the gift of immense strength. He falls in love and marries a Philistine woman, but the Philistines burn her out of their home, sending Samson into a rage of killing. The Philistines send the Israelites to capture him, vowing to kill one of them each day until Samson is brought in. Samson comes willingly, knowing it is God’s will that he save his people. Upon his return, he easily breaks out of the chains and yoke that bound him and attacks the Philistines again. When he pauses for a moment, he spies a beautiful woman -- Delilah.
To determine the source of Samson’s strength, the Philistines bribe Delilah with a chest full of coins. She gets him to share his secret, then cuts his hair while he sleeps. Since he now has the strength of a normal man, Philistine soldiers capture him easily, and gouge his eyes out. When Samson realizes his weakened state, he prays for strength while trying to bring down pillars. God rewards his faith and renews his strength, allowing him to destroy the city, and falling pillars crush thousands, including Samson.
The prophet Samuel is aging, and the Israelites don’t want his corrupt sons to take his place. He says that he will anoint a king chosen by God. He anoints Saul the first king of Israel, but Saul doesn’t follow God’s will in battle, and is stripped of his power.
Samuel spies a young shepherd hurling a rock at a wolf to keep his flock safe. Thinking he’s the one God has chosen, he anoints David of Bethlehem to be the next king of Israel once Saul is dead.
The Philistines offer a challenge, a fight between one Israelite and their Goliath, with the loser becoming slaves of the winner. None of the Israelites want to take on the giant, but David steps forward, saying God will protect him just as he protects his sheep. Amid laughter, he bends to retrieve a few rocks, and fells Goliath with one shot. Writers missed a good opportunity to showcase the story of a mere boy killing a giant with nothing but a slingshot, but the scene was short and almost an afterthought.
Joining Saul’s army, David becomes a hero, fighting for decades. Saul is afraid that David will want his crown, so offers his beautiful daughter to him if he completes one task: head into battle and return with 100 dead Philistines. Thinking David will be killed, Saul is shocked when he returns with not 100, but 200 bodies, saying God was with him.
Saul is enraged, David escapes, Saul goes after him. David comes up behind Saul and could easily have killed him, but chooses not to. Saul is later killed and David gets his crown, claiming Jerusalem as his capital city.
A prophet told David that his son would someday rule and build God’s temple. David spies a beautiful girl bathing and asks that she be brought to him. Bathsheba says she is loyal to her husband who is off at war, but David seduces her. When she becomes pregnant, David realizes he will be exposed, so sends for Uriah to be brought home. Uriah says his mind is on the Holy War and refuses when David gives him permission to go be with Bathsheba. That ploy unsuccessful, David has a commander send Uriah to a remote area and abandon him to die.
Bathsheba bears David a son, but he becomes sick and dies because David broke commandments when he lusted after another’s wife and later killed him. David prays at the Ark of the Covenant, and a prophet tells him that he even though he was weak, God won’t abandon him. He will continue to serve God’s nation on earth, and will be given another son – Solomon. Week two ends with a comment about how Solomon will suffer some of the same weaknesses as his father, which we will no doubt see in the third two-hour episode, "Hope", which airs Sunday, March 17 at 8 p.m. on the History channel.
Overall, “The Bible” is well done, but tends to give more focus to lesser known verses rather than the more dynamic parts of the stories we learned at our parent’s knee or at Sunday school. By design?
See the full episode guide for upcoming shows and reruns of previous episodes of "The Bible".